Monday, December 10, 2018

SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 (1987) (Scream Factory Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review)


Collector's Edition 

Label: Scream Factory

Region Code: A
Duration: 88 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Mono with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Lee Harry 
Cast: Eric Freeman, James Newman, Elizabeth Kaitan, Jean Miller

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987) picks up years after the original film, killer-Santa Billy's younger brother Ricky (Eric Freeman, Murder Weapon) is now an adult and has been committed to an asylum for the criminally insane, awaiting trial for several murders he's committed. We catch up with the disturbed young man as psychiatrist Dr. Henry Bloom (James Newman) is interviewing him, it's through this narrative device that we are thrown into a series of flashbacks recalling pretty much every major scene from the first film as Ricky explains the traumatic events of '74, the cruelty of the nuns at the orphanage, and his older sibling Billy's psycho-Santa killing spree. Without exaggeration I can say that more than half of this film are re-edited scenes from the first film, yet I think this sequel work better than the original film by tossing out some of the filler that slowed down the original. 

After the series of flashbacks we get to Ricky's own story, of his life after Billy's death, and his adoption by a sweet couple, with a super 8mm montage of Ricky's happy new life after the adoption, but his traumatic childhood has left him with serious psychological scars and a phobia of nuns. The death of his adopted father spurs his own kill-spree, with Ricky punishing those who've been naughty according to his own twisted sense of right and wrong. He begins with a young couple caught having sex in the woods, a sight which induces a flashback to his own mother's assault - which I find very odd considering he was only an infant when it all happened! Anyway, he flips his wig and repeatedly runs over the man with a Jeep Wrangler until there's not much else left but a bloody stain in the grass. Another memorable kill comes when Ricky happens upon a loan shark strong-arming as debter in an alleyway, he steps in and runs an umbrella right through his abdomen which then opens up, a gruesome death but this film is definitely more comical than the first, and I am not entirely convinced this is done purposefully either, there's a bit of filmic ineptness happening here, but it makes for some entertaining viewing, that's for sure. 

Eric Freeman as Ricky is just awful in the best possible way, a jocular meat-head with a stilted line delivery, intensely arched eyebrows and a hilarious maniacal laugh that had me rolling on the floor, his laughter was just the gift that just kept giving throughout the film, and he is really working the eybrows! 

We see teenaged Ricky fall in love with a girl named Jennifer (Elizabeth Cayton, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood) whom he takes out the theater and guess what they're watching? SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT, of course! Things are going swell but a chance encounter with her shitty ex sends Ricky right off the deep end, with him electrocuting Jenny's ex via battery jumper cables attached to the ex's sunglasses causing his eyes to pop! A cop arrives on the scene and attempts to apprehend the lunatic but he shoots the officer in the head, from there he begins a hilarious suburban rampage, shooting a neighbor who's putting his trash can on the curb while comically yelling the iconic line "It's Garbage Day!", definitely the best line in the film. He continues his killing spree, shooting a car which overturns and explodes into a fireball, eventually being apprehended by police.

Keep in mind this is all being shown through flashback, now we come  to the present day and we discover that Dr. Bloom is dead, strangled by Ricky with his own reel to reel tape, and now Ricky is on the loose, and his first order of business is to swipe a Santa suit from a Salvation Army Santa and to visit Mother Superior to punish her for what she did to his brother Billy. 

Audio/Video: Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2 (1987) arrives on Blu-ray from Scream Factory, a 2K scan of an archival theatrical print, presented in 1080p HD and framed in 1.85:1 widescreen. The original elements are lost for this sequel, so Scream went with an archival print, using their own HD master of the first film for the flashback scenes. Overall the image is solid, the archival print seems to be a great condition, grain is a bit intrusive at times but colors looks good and decently saturated, and blacks are solid. Audio comes by way of an English DTS-HD MA mono with optional English subtitles, handling the dialogue and score without issue. 

Scream Factory gift us with some great new extras, the main one being an over hour-long making of doc with Co-Writer/Director Lee Harry, Actors Eric Freeman, James Newman, Elizabeth Kaitan, Darrel Guilbeau, And Kenny McCabe, And Makeup Effects Artist Christopher Biggs. Lee Harry speaks about the project coming to him, creating the outline, not being a huge fan of the first film, and how being a film editor did not quite prepare him for the challenge of directing. Freeman speaks about his early years in Hollywood, landing the role having never seen the original film. The cast each speak about the on-the-fly nature of the filming, shooting guerrilla style in public spaces and not really being afforded the opportunity for second takes or getting any input from the director about their performances or characters. There's also chatter about Freeman's lifting weights on set to keep in shape, the love scene,  and the special FX from Christopher Biggs (Critters). It's a great doc that answers a lot of the lingering questions you might have about this strange yuletide cult-classic.

For me personally the biggest gift under this Xmas tree is the hour-long interview with Makeup Effects Artist Christopher Biggs who speaks about his entire career, working for Roger Corman, working on Scalps, Ghoulies, Mausoleum, Nightmare on Elm Street 4, Friday the 13th Part 6, Teen Wolf, and doing the octopus for Goonies, plus many more, filled with great stories about working on both low-budget and big-budget films through the years.

We also get a 20-min location visit with Robert Patterson, revisiting the California locations used in the film, Eric Freeman even shows up to accompany him. I love these sort of visits to locations then and now, this is a good one, and it's great to have Freeman there to speak about the film and the scenes he appeared in, talking a bit about each scene and refusing to say his iconic line reading.  

We also get a 8-min short film with Eric Freeman playing his character from the film, now imprisoned, being interviewed by a prison doc examining the influence of violent cinema on the character, after having shown him the film, which in the short is based on his true-life exploits. It's cool to see Freeman revisiting the role, making some fun inside jokes about himself. The disc is buttoned up with a 2-min trailer for the film and another for Finding Freeman (1 min).  

The single-disc release comes housed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a sleeve of reversible artwork, featuring the original movie artwork and a new illustration by artist Joel Robinson who also did the artwork for Scream Factory's release of the first film, so the pair have some nice symmetry sitting in the shelf. 

Special Features:  
- NEW 2K Scan Of An Archival Theatrical Print
- NEW Audio Commentary With Director Lee Harry, And Actors Eric Freeman And James Newman
- NEW Slay Bells Ring Again: The Story Of Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 – Featuring Interviews With Co-Writer/Director Lee Harry, Actors Eric Freeman, James Newman, Elizabeth Kaitan, Darrel Guilbeau, And Kenny McCabe, And Makeup Effects Artist Christopher Biggs (65 min) 
- NEW Garbage Days Are Here Again – A Look At The Film’s Locations (20 min) 
- NEW Ricky Today – A short Film Featuring A 2018 Interview With Ricky Caldwell (8 min) 
- NEW I Don’t Sleep – An Extended Interview With Makeup Effects Artist Christopher Biggs (62 min) 
- Audio Commentary By Co-Writer/Director Lee Harry, Co-Writer Joseph H. Earle, And Actor James Newman
- Theatrical Trailer (2 min) 
- Finding Freeman Trailer (1 min)

Silent Night, Dead Night Part 2 (1987) is a yuletide cult-classic, I watch it every year come December, in fact if I am being honest I skip the first film altogether and go straight for this one, as it features about half the original film in it! Scream Factory come through a great looking release of the xmas slasher with a bunch of cool extras, making this an easy upgrade. 

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